When Overfelt added a boys golf program two years ago, the plan was smart from the get-go: Lure as many Advanced Placement students to the team as possible.
"Golf is an intellectual sport, more brains than brawn," coach Alex Adayan said this week. "So we started getting smarter kids. Then we started looking for athletes, so we ended up with a bunch of soccer players who we taught how to play."
The team also found a basketball player whose golf game needed a little refining. And its best player, the one with a golf background, happened to be a girl.
Grace Jeanpierre is still there, leading a team that this week clinched its second consecutive Blossom Valley Athletic League West Valley Division championship. The Royals can complete an undefeated season Thursday against Mt. Pleasant.
The team's motto: Practice with a purpose.
"A lot of kids like to work on stuff that they do well," said Adayan, who coaches the team along with Bob Barnes. "We work on the other stuff that we don't do so well."
Overfelt has four players with 4.0 grade-point averages -- Jeanpierre and her younger sister, Sofia, Cathy Tran and Carlos Gonzalez.
Two years ago, Gonzalez did not know Overfelt had a golf team until a friend mentioned that she was going to golf practice. He came along and quickly learned that golf is more challenging than it looks.
"I couldn't really hit anything at first," Gonzalez said. "A few weeks into it, I started to hit the ball off the ground. I thought it was going to be easy at first. Pretty much my only exposure to golf was mini-golf."
Gonzalez, who has dropped his scores over nine holes from the 60s to low 40s, has received academic offers from Harvard and Cal. The news from Harvard arrived in an email just before a recent golf match.
"He was one of the smart kids the first year we said let's get smart kids," Adayan said. "We manipulated him a little bit by telling him it will look good on your college applications."
Grace Jeanpierre had considered attending Mt. Pleasant because Overfelt did not have a golf program. Having learned to play through the First Tee program and her father, she is undefeated in Overfelt's No. 1 spot this season after losing just a couple of matches the previous two.
The team's success makes Adayan proud. "It's pretty cool for Eastside kids to pick up a game that is not real common on this side of town," he said.